Examining the assumptions of integrated coastal management: Stakeholder agendas and elite cooption in Babuyan Islands, Philippines

R.K. Larsen, J.M. Acebes, A. Belen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


In the Philippines, Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) represents the dominant response to narratives of ecosystem decline. However, there are persistent challenges to implementation, manifested in continued resource degradation, questioning of the exercise of stakeholder involvement and rising resource conflicts. This paper examines the implementation process and how the assumptions embodied in the ICM regime meet the local reality in one group of islands in the Philippine archipelago. The evidence shows how the transformation towards a supposed equilibrium state of coastal ecosystems is undermined in the face of diverging stakeholder agendas. Expected actors are disempowered by the incoherence between the policy owners’ worldview and reality, paving the way for unethical influence from elite alliances. This is coupled with a deepening of the dominance of state, international development banks, foreign aid agencies, and NGOs in promoting their respective interests. In localities such as the Babuyan Islands, when assumptions of ICM collapse it has destructive consequences for fisherfolk and the coastal environment. We conclude that if ICM is to foster an effective and equitable correction of current unsustainable exploitation patterns, then there is a need to institute improved accountability mechanisms in the devolved governance system as well as taking seriously the espoused commitment to stakeholder involvement in determining the goals and assumptions of ICM
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-18
JournalOcean & Coastal Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • marine protected areas
  • resource-management
  • sustainable management
  • conservation
  • policy
  • science
  • forest
  • water

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